More Ground Zero Drama, As Mosque Developers Apply For Federal Grant

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Lucas Jackson / Reuters

After a summer of protests, blogosphere turbulence and cable news boxing matches, the developers at the proposed Park51 Islamic Center in Lower Manhattan seem to be ready for another round. And this time, they’re taking it to the bank.

Officials at Park51 say they have applied for a $5 million federal grant that comes from funds aimed at redeveloping that area of New York, which suffered economically in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, the New York Daily News reported. Sharif El-Gamal said the money would be used for social service and education programs. But the mosque that is to be included in the proposed 13-story center is not part of the funding application.

Even still, a request for taxpayer dollars that generated so much pseudo-political heat is promising to bring more controversy. “If Imam Feisal and his retinue want know why they’re not trusted, here’s yet another reason,” Irshad Manji, director of the Moral Courage Project at New York University, told The Daily Beast, which broke the story.

But El-Gamal remains staid on his organization’s intentions: “Park51 remains committed to exploring all sources of revenue and funding to build the community center in lower Manhattan,” he said in the Daily News on Monday.